20 Things I’ve Learned From Being a Vagabond

passportinsideIn a world ruled by pressure to conform, to uphold a “reputable” job, have a family, a car, and “stable” lifestyle, these are some things I’ve learned while doing the exact opposite.

  1. True friends are the ones who support you in your adventure, offer you a sofa, and don’t judge you for being a little different.
  2. There is a big world out there, and watching The Amazing Race doesn’t count as seeing it. Either does a two week holiday in a luxury hotel.
  3. The only way to really learn a city is on foot (or bike). Tours only get you so far. Get a map and start walking.
  4. Accept loss. You will eventually lose your phone, keys, wallet, flat, money, sleep … but you’ll be alright. Those things don’t matter so much in the long run. Keep your passport protected and you’ll be fine.
  5. Travel light. Less stuff = more freedom.
  6. Some people are going to be mean, jealous and scornful. You are living the dream and that makes people nervous. Anytime folks walk outside of societal lines, people get nervous. Don’t let it bug you. Haters gonna hate.
  7. Keep your pack in sight at all times when traveling on a train or bus. Hold your purse on your lap, sleep on top of your pack, and don’t wear headphones. Be alert.
  8. Take books over an eReader. Books can be helpful in making friends, trading, sharing, and even for reading. Local expats will appreciate any reading material they don’t have to pay for, and books spark better conversation than an eReader.
  9. Comfort is subjective. Some people need three televisions, a car, fancy sheets and a house to feel comfortable. Some people don’t. Don’t cave to other peoples ideals. Stay true to who you are and you will be happy.
  10. Meeting people is key to having a good time. The more people you meet, the more information you’ll get. Don’t just talk to other Americans, talk to locals – they have the best knowledge. And steer clear of asking the same old questions – What do you do, How long have you lived here, etc. Instead, ask where the best place to get a burger is, or where to go hiking. You’ll get more useful information and you won’t annoy anyone.
  11. Carry a notebook and a pen. Take notes on what you see, who you meet, phone numbers, addresses, reservation numbers. I promise, it will come in handy. Even if you have a smart phone – keep a notebook. No one wants to steal your notebook.
  12. Learn the fine art of detachment. It sucks to leave your friends (over and over and over) but it gets easier each time. You can always go back and visit them again, and you are never far away from anyone when you have FaceBook.
  13. Take pictures, but don’t worry about taking pictures. Put your camera down for a few and just be in the moment. Those memories are more important than pictures.
  14. Getting lost is just part of the deal. I found some of my favorite places by getting lost. But, carry a map. There is a difference between getting lost and being stupid.
  15. Travel smart. Carry a map. Tell people where you are going. Don’t take unnecessary risks like walking home drunk, in the rain, at 4am. Just trust me on this one.
  16. Never challenge an Australian or a Czech to a drinking contest. No matter who wins, nobody wins.
  17. Don’t fear the unknown – that’s where the magic is. The more you travel, the better you get at it.
  18. Be proud of your accomplishments. Living a nomadic life isn’t easy. It takes dedication, perseverance, and commitment. Don’t let other people try to make you feel small for living life a different way.
  19. Keep snacks handy. You never know when you’ll be delayed.
  20. If you are not happy where you are, you can leave. The best part about being a vagabond is not having roots. I don’t have a mortgage, car payments, bills or a schedule. I wasn’t happy in Texas, so I’m moving on. That’s the joy of being a vagabond.

14 thoughts on “20 Things I’ve Learned From Being a Vagabond

  1. You have such an exciting life. And very good advice on traveling. And what you say about friends is so true. Wonder where you will end up when you leave Texas. Have a safe journey

  2. I just woke up from a dream like this. I live a very poor life in the Philippines. I had a dream there was a map in my mind, and then I was just walking down a street somewhere I didn’t know. I passed by and window-shopped at some high-class stores where the cashiers gave me dirty looks, but I didn’t care. I felt free.

    I’m only 20 though. And in reality, I don’t think a life like that is suited for me. Still, it sounds quite romantic when you look at it a certain way.

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